While all the stuff has been going on, Einzige returns to the Dappled Unicorn and receives 300gp – 100 from the innkeeper, and 200 from the lord who offered to double the innkeeper. He sits down with his free pint, and keeps an ear out for further work.
Daraja, in an attempt to find out where the others have Alphonse holed up, heads to Drakewing’s house, and talks to the housekeeper Mrs Wilkins, who tells him that the group have left town suddenly. He finds this curious and sets out to find them. His options to get more information about where they may have gone, he thinks, are to speak to someone at the Slippery Slope, or to speak to Cece. Since the Theater is closer, he heads there, and finds Cece outside, hankie in hand. She tells him that the group have left town, and are aiming for Stonebridge, and asks him to bring Alphonse back to her.
With assurances he will, Daraja heads back to the Northgate Precinct Watchhouse to speak to Captain Eric Withnail. Daraja informs the Captain, that not only has Alph skipped town, but Elo has helped him. The Captain is outraged, and gives Daraja a license of bounty to retrieve Alphonse and Elowen dead or alive.
Flush with the prospect of hunting down his former comrades, Daraja heads out to finds his trainee rangers, and collects eighteen of them to take with him on his mission. Daraja then finds out where Enizege is drinking, and after a word with his network, he heads to the Dappled Unicorn and speaks with the half-orc. Enizege considers for a moment and says he will join Daraja’s team.
Meanwhile back on the road, the remainder of the group come across Uncle Jared. They come to a halt and ask if he needs a ride. While they are talking, Elo says she needs to pee. She has been going over the mess she’s made of everything in her head while they’re on the road, and has decided she will return to the city and face the music, but won’t tell say anything because she doesn’t want the others to try and stop her.
Uncle Jared says he is surprised to see them, but after hearing their tale, he agrees to go with them and take them to a chapel of St Cuthbert in Stonebridge. while they are talking Elo slips away and makes a run for it. Jared says she probably has some things to work out, so they carry on without her, Meredith sure that the woodling will return to them at some point.
As she flees back to the city, Elowen sees an approaching coach, and regardless of who it is, she decides to hide. She leaps and tumbles over a rock intending to hide, but as she does so, she notices that one of the riders on the coach is Daraja, so she comes to a defensive crouch, and draws her crossbow, aiming for him. Unfortunately she misses, and hits the coach instead. Daraja has also noticed her, and as the coach draws level, he looses an arrow back at her, using a sleep arrow, and hits. Elo goes down, but fortunately for her, before Daraja can get to her, Einzige catches hold of her. Daraja says to strip her of her equipment, which Einzige does so, and ties her up. Daraja orders her taken back to the city. She is given over the Head Road Warden, a man called Jessop, and they head back to the city. Daraja then orders some of the Road Wardens and the rest of his group to carry on after the coach, and they do so, with the Wardens going on ahead.
The Wardens catch up to the coach, and the group warn them to stay back, saying they are a prisoner transport, but the Warden’s don’t believe them, as Daraja has shown them his writ. Jared climbs on top of the coach as they are traveling and gives them fair warning, not to mess with the group, but still the Wardens persist, so Jared fights them. From behind, Daraja’s cart has caught up, and he shoots over their heads and hits one of the horses. The pair of horses buck and bolt in opposite directions, pulling the yoke that binds them, and shattering it. the coach goes over on it’s side skidding to a stop. The Warden’s call for the group to come out of the coach with their hands raised, but of course they are disinclined to do so, so instead Uncle Jared climbs out and covers for them. Jared calls out that he’s seen Daraja’s like before, and Daraja counters with a request for Jared to turn aside. Jared responds with a mini-rant about how people like Daraja use the system to hide behind, and finishes it up with ‘I’ve scraped things off my boots with more credibility than you!’. He runs forward, but Daraja has his rangers turn him into a pincushion. Alphonse screams out, as Squeaks casts a pall of darkness to cover their escape, and Meredith hauls on the grief stricken Alphonse. Under cover of the confusion they run, and Merry pulls them off the road.
Finally Elowen and Jessop reach Toreguard. She asks if he minds allowing her to walk into the watchhouse on her own. He asks her name, and she gives it. Jessop recognises her by reputation, and he says he will grant her that. They have a brief conversation about poor choices and Doing The Right Thing, and she bids him good night. Elo gathers the cloak he’s loaned her, and walks into the station, to the confused stares of some of her colleagues.
She goes straight to the captain’s office. as she walks in he greets her with a confused look of his own, that soon turns to understanding as she quietly and calmly gets to her knees and places her hands behind her head, and places herself under arrest. The captain takes it in his stride, and escorts her, in cuffs, down to the cells. She protests that she should be put with the other prisoners, but Captain Withnail tells her that it’s his choice and is she arguing with a superior officer? She says no, and they continue. He locks her in the cell with a bottle of wine, and takes a seat outside. She tries to tell him all the horrible stuff she believes she’s done, and that she should no longer have her rank, but he persists in calling her Sergeant. He asks where the group are now, and she tells him they were on their way to stonebridge. She insists that it isn’t them that he wants, that she was behind everything, but he won’t listen, instead he laments at the state of affairs – that he asked rashly and in anger at sending Daraja off to take Alph down. Withnail then tells her a story about how he sent his own wife to the executioner’s block because she spoke out against the Drakemar empire, and the Emissary told him to do so. Elo is stunned, but at the end of the tale, she again insists that he stop calling her by her rank. He says no, that he will not accept her resignation – instead, come the morning, she will be accepting his. Elo asks if he’s planning on doing anything stupid, because there’s clearly plenty of stupid to go around tonight. He says, no, he’s going to make things right, and bids her good night. She calls after him, demanding to know what he’ll do, but again he just says he’ll see her in the morning and leaves her in a state.
Back on the road, the fight has been taken into the long grass. The warden’s are still stumbling around in the black pall cast by Stringwhiskers, but Daraja has managed to drive through it and out the other side. They have paused to put Jared’s body onto the wreckage of Olidemmara’s coach, and have set fire to it, in what Daraja refers to as a funeral pyre. His men do not seem so convinced, but do as they are told anyway.
The remainder of the group have hidden themselves, but Daraja has sent his men to surround them on one side, while he creeps around the back. At first the group don’t want to attack, however soon Daraja and his rangers don’t give them much choice. So Alpha hurries into the fray and takes out half the rangers in one swoop. But as Daraja is hidden behind them, he shoots at Alph and does him considerable damage. Merry hurries out of hiding and heals Alphonse. Meanwhile squeaks has managed to charm someone and Drakewing dazed another in the second group of Rangers. At the same time Einzige has put a bullet in another ranger. All the while Daraja has been attacking from a hidden point behind them. Suddenly he makes the grass twitch and it entangles their feet…